An incriminating context: Sansa Stark and the ‘Game of Thrones’ rape problem
TV Game Of Thrones An incriminating context: Sansa Stark and the ‘Game of Thrones’ rape problem
fans are reeling from the violence unleashed on Sansa Stark in last night’s episode, but the real problem may go much deeper than one scene.
Having avoided unwanted intimacy with both Joffrey and Tyrion, Sansa found herself helpless when her new husband – the series’s foremost psychopath, Ramsay Bolton – violently forced himself on her. Though the camera turned away from Sansa’s terrified agony, the sounds of ripping cloth, cries of pain, and the image of Theon Greyjoy’s tears made it overwhelmingly clear that Sansa was becoming a victim of rape.
The scene is incredibly difficult to take in, both in its content and its implications. Fans have followed Sansa – and actress Sophie Turner – since she was a child. Viewers have observed with growing pride as Sansa diffused Joffrey’s deadly advances, found goodness in Sandor Clegane’s brutality, and handled her forced marriage to Tyrion with grace. Sansa has suffered immensely over the course of
, but somehow it seemed that the omnipresent specter of rape would never land a real blow on the brave young Lady Stark.
Those hopes are dashed now. Sansa has lost her virginity – brutally, against her will, and to an utter monster. This crucial point of her autonomy has been destroyed, and there is no way that Sansa will ever be the same again.
There is a lot to criticize about this decision, which deviates heavily from the events of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Online fandom, of course, has not held back, expressing rage and disgust at the rape; many fans have decided to stop watching
The simplest and most prominent argument against Sansa’s rape boils down to the question of why such a development would be necessary. Executive Producer Bryan Cogman, who wrote “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” insists that the moment will become a point of strength for Sansa.
“This is a hardened woman making a choice and she sees this as the way to get back her homeland,” Cogman told EW. “Sansa has a wedding night in the sense she never thought she would with one of the monsters of the show. It’s pretty intense and awful and the character will have to deal with it.”
But this begs the question; why should Sansa have to deal with such a thing at all? What character development could be wrung from this tragedy that could not have been created without a violent rape? Why does
– and so much popular entertainment – revert to this horrific crime when they want their female characters to “grow”?
This question is especially important when considering the context and content of Sansa’s rape scene objectively. To play
Devil’s Advocate, it is worth noting that the intensely controversial scene is not exploitive; Sansa is not dehumanized, or used in any way as a prop. Her personhood is preserved – and was in fact reinforced by an earlier moment of real strength.
And Sophie Turner herself is enthusiastic Sansa’s straits – though she has no illusions about the tone of the events her character experiences.
“I love the fact she’s back home reclaiming what’s hers. But at the same time she’s being held prisoner in her own home,” Turner says. “When I got the scripts, it was bit like, dude, I felt so bad for her. But I also felt excited because it was so sick.”
As an actress, Turner admitted, “When I read [the rape] scene, I kinda loved it. I love the way Ramsay had Theon watching. It was all so messed up. It’s also so daunting for me to do it,” she said. “But I secretly loved it.”
The issue then, is perhaps not necessarily specific to this situation. As
upsetting, infuriating, and painful as it is to see Sansa violated in this way (and even to have to write the words “Sansa’s rape,”) the issue itself might not have been as controversial if
did not have such an absurdly poor track record where sexual assault is involved.
does “right” for Sansa’s scene, it has done wrong before – and repeatedly. (This is, after all, the show which practically invented “sexposition.”)
regularly uses nude women as set-dressing, and has blatantly used rape as both a prop of violent men and an easy storytelling device.
Last season, many fans were horrified when Jaime appeared to angrily rape Cersei on the floor of the Great Sept, as she begged him to stop. Though the writers, actors, and director all insisted that the scene had been misconstrued, the incident crystalized the fact that women on
are frequently presented as sexually disposable. Ros the prostitute was brutally murdered by Joffrey in season 3, and even the fur-clad Meera Reed was threatened with rape and murder in season 4.
has strong female characters. Yes, they are often treated with care and respect. But the fact of the matter is,
has indicted itself on multiple counts of female exploitation. Even for hard-core fans, even for those who have no intention of quitting the show, the series has plucked that dreadful note of rape one too many times.
There are better ways to sculpt characters than sexual exploitation. There are more productive ways to cause pain than rape. And
has lost the luxury of further indulging in this social blight; it is way past time they do better.
season 5, episode 7, “The Gift,” airs next Sunday at 9:00 p.m. on HBO.
What are your feelings on the rape of Sansa Stark on ‘Game of Thrones’?
Bryan Cogman dan weiss david benioff game of thrones sansa stark
Not to belabour the point but I found Crastor’s Keep one of the worst points of violence against women in the show and I’m still wondering what the point of it was in the end.
Haven’t watched this episode yet and I’ll probably end up skipping the Sansa scene. She probably will come out stronger in the end and the winner but do they have to go this way to do it?
It’s a tired plot device that’s just weak and demoralizing to the fanbase.
First Elementary empowers Kitty through rape, now on GoT, Sansa is sexually violated and the producers insist that she will come stronger from that? What the effing eff! So, unless a woman is sexually demeaned and abused, she can’t become strong or what? Rape is the only thing that can push a woman to become stronger or what? Jesus wept…
Although I firmly believe that the last thing Game of Thrones needs is more non-book rape, has anyone really expected anything else from Ramsay?
I mean, even if you haven’t read the books which, btw make Joffrey look like a puppy in comparisson with Ramsay, the scene between Sansa and Myranda who litteraly said that HE HUNTED DOWN AND MADE HIS DOGS EAT A PREGNANT GIRL ALIVE should be an indicator of what was going to happen to Sansa.
Do you honestly expected from a murderous psycho monster like him to make tender love to his lovely wife?
While this didn’t shock me at all (the same exact thing happened to Dany in s1), I was really hoping they’d be less lazy than this. It’s like incriminating Loras and his family because he’s gay. Um, nobody cares except clearly the writers. I’d really like some dragons now.
This was a sick and unnecessary deviation from the plot.
I always felt George R Martin kept having her saved from rape for a reason and she would at least give her virginity to someone she loved or at least lose it of her own volition to someone she didn’t mind losing it to, at least a little bit of joy for Sansa.
Sansa has been through so much already and this was just unwarranted.
Might as well just stop watching this show and wait for the books
‘Supergirl’ is the female-driven superhero show we need (opinion)
Elizabeth Henstridge breaks down \'S.H.I.E.L.D\'\'s shocking finale (exclusive)
Movies that should have won Best Picture at the Oscars but didn\'t
Horrible ideas for \'The Hunger Games\' theme park
But <em>how</em> it\'s going to happen is a whole other story.
Pop culture taught me everything about \'Doctor Who\'
What your favorite \'Downton\' character says about you